Thursday, 17 March 2016
Title: The K2 Virus
Author: Scott Rhine
“The K2 Virus” is the latest Science-Fiction novel to be written by Scott Rhine. The story revolves around a young researcher, Daniel Mann who is working with a company who are assisting the US Army in inoculating their troops in South Korea against future illness. Whilst Daniel is out in Korea helping to administer the inoculation and monitor for side effects, a new virus named “K2” appears in North Korea and soon spreads into the South. Before long, Daniel finds himself slap bang in the middle of a major outbreak that threatens to spill out across the world.
The novel was sold to me under the Hard Science-Fiction sub-genre and I feel that this label does fit adequately. It offers quite a detailed explanation of how a potent disease can spread from patient zero to the rest of the population and covers some of the attempts by Scientists to combat it. This doesn’t mean the plot is overly dry or bogged down in jargon however as there are still twists, thrills and some elements of action included in the story. If I had one major complaint with the plot, then it is probably in regards to the ending which I found rather rushed and unsatisfying. The tension which Rhine has tried to build up just doesn’t seem to go anywhere and this was rather disappointing. My disappointment with the ending was probably compounded by the fact that whilst the novel was entertaining and interesting enough, it just wasn’t that exciting compared to some of Rhine’s other novels.
In regards to the characters, they were all well-defined and had a level of complexity that impressed me. I enjoyed finding myself being surprised by some of their actions and the various hidden motivations that were ultimately driving them. I also found the various reactions on show to be quite believable with each character showing various levels of panic, fear and denial as events unfolded.
Overall, “The K2 Virus” was an enjoyable enough story with some interesting science based around the inoculation programme and the spread of the virus itself. I also appreciated the way in which the various characters were portrayed. However, there was just something lacking on the excitement front which was further driven home by the rather rushed ending.
Sunday, 13 March 2016
Title: Twilight's End
Author: Jerry Oltion
Genre: Science Fiction
“Twilight's End” by Jerry Oltion is a Star Trek Original Series adventure in which the Enterprise comes to the aid of a tidally locked world whose inhabitants occupy a single thin strip of land. The ever increasing population has destroyed what fragile biosphere there was, and is now attempting to save their home by implementing an audacious plan to start the planet spinning by using a vast array of impulse engines spread across the planet.
I have to admit that I found the plot to be rather silly, the thought of using 30,000 engines to spin a planet just seemed a bit absurd to me. Oltion does at least try and put some scientific thought into what happens but in the end it feels like this is just another example for the magical technology of Star Trek being used to save the day even if the entire premise is nuts! Luckily, Oltion tries to use amusing commentaries and interactions between the main characters to lighten the overall tone of the novel so the silliness isn’t difficult to ignore.
One thing that Oltion has captured well, are the crew of the Enterprise. The characterisations are pretty much spot on and everyone seemed to act in a manner that I would have expected. In addition, the regular characters are supported by some interesting new characters from the planet itself. I can’t complain at all about that aspect of the novel.
My final note on the book is that there was an undertone to the plot which reminded me of the global warming arguments that were popular in the period that the novel was written. The discussions on ecological damage being done to the world and how we should react were of course the same discussions which were happening in the real world and to be honest still are.
Overall, this is an interesting enough Trek novel even if it does feel a little bit silly. Oltion’s writing is competent enough and it was interesting seeing him try to explain some of the science in a manner we don’t always get with Trek novels. If you are a fan of the more comic/silly Trek episodes then I suspect you may enjoy this one.